From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Lauren Beukes: Inspired by Art

In this Author Spotlight, we asked Lauren Beukes to tell us a bit about the background of her story for Fantasy Magazine, “Ghost Girl.”

Does any specific moment of inspiration come to mind when you consider the genesis of “Ghost Girl”?

It’s inspired by art, architecture and Japanese horror movies—and the idea of what it would really be like to be haunted by a teenager.

Out of all the architects to choose for a story about an architectural student, why did you choose to focus on Pancho Guedes?

Ah, that’s a write-what-you-know answer. I’m friends with his granddaughter, Georgina Guedes, and had the privilege of meeting him and staying overnight at his Eye House in Sintra in Portugal. Usually I don’t write about people I know personally, but he was the perfect fit for this story—an iconic Mozambican architect with a whimsical style all his own. And there really was a retrospective of his work at the South African National Gallery at the time I was writing it.

I like to let characters in stories ask their own questions sometimes. At one point in “Ghost Girl” the protagonist asks: “I was wondering if you had any advice? For me.” What advice do you have for him?

Break up with Nolly already. There’s troubled and there’s batshit crazy, and she’s definitely latter camp. It’s classic Twilight Syndrome—trying to save the tortured bad boy/girl. It’ll only lead to heartbreak and therapy and frankly, they’re not as interesting as they’d like you to think.

What was so important about how the ghost girl died? What, if any, significance was there for the protagonist? What about for the ghost girl herself?

Was it important?

Do you have any upcoming publications or projects you would like to announce?

My new novel, Zoo City is out in the US this month, about a girl with a sloth on her back and the magical ability to find lost things in the inner city slums of Johannesburg. It’s been getting some lovely reviews.

And if you enjoy art-inspired stories, check out my really very insane and over-the-top tale, “Unathi Battles The Black Hairballs” coming up at Dark Fiction Review.

T.J. McIntyre has seen his short fiction and poetry published in numerous publications including recent appearances in Everyday Weirdness, Ruthless Peoples Magazine, and Scifaikuest. He is a member of various writing organizations, including the Science Fiction Poetry Association (SFPA), and serves as a moderator for the Lobo Luna and Western Writers writing communities on LiveJournal. Until earlier this year, he published Southern Fried Weirdness, an anthology and web zine celebrating speculative fiction and poetry with a Southern perspective. He lives in a busy household in the muggy heart of rural Alabama with his wife, two young sons, an aging Doberman mix, five tiger barbs, and three salt-and-pepper catfish.